Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is Knockout Power Important?

Does that seem like a silly question? I am now on a mailing list that seems to focus primarily on developing knockout power, as if that's the most important component to self-defense. Where does knockout power fit into the skills and attributes of someone who is prepared to defend himself? I mentioned that I'd post about this when discussing how to generate more power.

Wikipedia describes "knockout power" as, "the probability of any strike to the head to cause unconsciousness in an opponent (usually referred to as a knockout). Knockout power is related to the total momentum and precision of the strike. A kick to the temple has generally more knockout power than a punch to the forehead." One who has the ability to finish a fight in one punch or kick can usually end an encounter more quickly, and probably at less risk than someone who has to use an accumulation of blows, or who has to resort to grappling on pavement.

Let's consider this from two perspectives:

  1. From a competitive/sport perspective, it's pretty important, and a big advantage. Just possessing a lot of power means that every feint, fake, and real technique has to be respected by giving an effective defense. In other words, no one will want to take a shot just to give one. With a consistent platform from which to develop power, usually a ring or hard/carpeted floor, it's easy to make striking pay off-just time it and hit hard to the right spot. Knockout power can also make a fighter who is getting beat "on points" still dangerous at the end of a bout. Boxing (and to some degree MMA ) gloves nullify the technique like eye jabs and grappling which can nullify the power puncher, and most of the time, kicks can't be grabbed or used for takedown openings, due to rules. In other words, most martial sports favor the power hitter.

  2. From a self-defense perspective, the advantage is not as great. Power equals mass times acceleration. Knockout power also factors in the target. The problem with depending on power in a self-defense situation is that it's so easily nullified by jamming (being too close to generate speed or force), or by having poor footing (if you can't push off by gripping the floor with your supporting foot/feet, you can't hit hard). The first problem is distance - as the cliche goes, most fights end up on the ground, and punching/kicking power don't count for much there. Also, in a sport situation, a referee or stylistic considerations will keep you at the range where your striking will have the chance to develop power - a referee will break boxers or TKD players in a clinch, and most point fighters won't get that close anyway, 'cause they can't score from there. In a street situation, over-commitment by using a knockout power punch can also land you on your butt if you miss and slip, too (I have done this, I'm proud to say).

In summary, power has its place, and I'd rather have it than not, but it goes away quickly in when you're tired, on gravel/ice, or on the ground, so I don't worry too much about it. I train for self-defense, so I use an accumilation of blows to the right places, or grappling, and if a knockout happens, great. Otherwise, I don't worry about it...
Back to work!

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ayesha said...

what about when you're dissolving/deflecting rather than jamming? I sparr with guys way bigger than me, I have to continually learn to deflect or get out of the way b/c I can't realistically jam it. When you deal with someone who has amazing sensitivity and dissolving skills, your power doesn't discharge in the target, it is returned right back to you.

Nathan Teodoro said...

Good point. I plan to post on how to defend someone who has a lot more power than you. Please email me - I'd like your thoughts.